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Shrimp Season Opens As Fresh Water from Mississippi River Threatens Seafood

By Rhonda Miller | Published 24 May 2011 02:31pm | comments
At Back Bay in Biloxi, shrimpers repair nets as the 2011 shrimp season opens.

Mississippi shrimp season opens today. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports the high cost of diesel and fresh water pouring in from the Mississippi River make it a challenging season.

On the docks in Biloxi, shrimp boats crews have been washing decks, sewing nets and making sure engines are running smoothly .

Binh Trong has been shrimping for 10 years. He says shrimpers are worried about whether they’ll be able to earn a living this season.

"We're worried about imports pushing the price down. Diesel is high, the shrimp price is too low. So this season, if the shrimp’s not good, you’re gonna work a lot harder for less money," Trong said.

Competition from imported shrimp and high fuel prices aren’t the only worries. Shrimp need a balance of fresh water and salt water, and floodwaters from the Mississippi River will upset the balance. Joe Jewell, Deputy Director of Marine Fisheries, says fresh water from the river is here now.

"Within a week, we’re going to have dramatic impacts into the western Mississippi Sound," Jewell said.

That means trouble for shrimpers on the Pass Christian side of the coast, while shrimpers around Biloxi and Pascagoula could still have a pretty normal season. Jewell says it all depends on how far east the fresh water goes.

"This was going to be a rebound season for our shrimpermen. They really have been suffering over the past few years from Katrina, low prices at the docks, and they had to suffer through the BP oil spill. And now we have the Mississippi River flooding," Jewell said. "It’s just one disaster after the next."

Jewell said Mississippi had about 65 boats on the first day of shrimp season last year. And it looks like there are more boats this year. It could be a sign shrimpers are optimistic, or they’re trying to catch as many shrimp as they can, before the fresh water takes over.

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At Back Bay in Biloxi, shrimpers repair nets as the 2011 shrimp season opens.


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